February 19, 2014 (JUBA) - Authorities from South Sudan’s Warrap state are seeking military intervention from the central government after armed elements believed to have come from neigbouring Unity state carried out an attack in which at least 8 people are reported killed.
The speaker of the state parliament, Moses Madot Dut Deng, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that several cattle camps in a village under Makuac Payam in his home county of Tonj east came under heavy attack by armed elements on February 17.
"They attacked several camps and took away some cows but the youth later managed to recover some, resulting into the loss of lives of two people. Another one was wounded", Deng told Sudan Tribune during an exclusive interview from Kuacjok town, capital of Warrap State.
Deng said the area has witnessed repeated attacks from well-armed groups. Warrap’s youth cannot withstand the attacks without intervention from the central government.
"The people who are involved in this act are reported by the survivors that they come in possession of modern weapons. They come with RPGs, dressed in military attire and move like a regular army. They are well armed and motivated by the desire loot", he said.
The area attacked falls within the triangle region straddling the three states of Unity, Lakes and Warrap, which is notorious for cross-border cattle raiding.
Unity has been placed under emergency rule since a large section of the army there defected in December last following fighting between members of the presidential guard on December 15.
South Sudan’s army, the SPLA, has since retaken Bentiu but fighting has continued despite a ceasefire deal signed in Addis Ababa on January 23.
Major General Santino Deng, the commander of the SPLA’s third division, which is based in Warrap state, said in January he would deploy troops to the area after authorities reportedly approached the general command through President Salva Kiir.
However, attacks have continued despite the beefed up military presence.
Speaker Deng the group who attacked Warrap was allied to the forces of South Sudan’s former Vice President, Riek Machar, have been able to attack civilians with ease and made reference to a attack last week in neigbouring Tonj North where gunmen seemingly killed residents at-will "for over five hours".
"Even though the youth have been succeeding in thwarting any of their plans, sometimes recovering cattle and inflicting heavy losses on the side of attackers, we believe there is a necessity from the central government to intervene because these youth do not have weapons. They do not have means of transport and the state government does not have the capacity," he said.
Dominic Deng Mayom, a member of the parliament from neigbouring Tonj County said there was a separate attack in Malual on February 16 and 17 respectively, another cattle camp in a village under Akop Payam, where several herds of cattle were stolen and six people were killed.
"They came around 8 to 9 pm in the evening when launched the attack, killing six people when they were engaged by the youth and wounding six others in the same fight. The commissioner went to the site on yesterday and he went again this morning. We do not have the full details. Some cows have been recovered but some lives have been lost", Mayom told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday, also in Kuacjok town, capital of the state.
Thokyok Magol, chairperson of the parliamentary committee on security in the state parliament also confirmed that the two separate attacked have been launched on the two areas by the armed identified to have come from the neigbouring unity state.
"Ten cattle camps in Tonj East came under heavy fire on February 16 and the fighting continued until on 17. This was in Mangar Payam in Luac Jang area, Tonj East County. A lot of cows were looted. Each camp takes more than 300 herds of cattle, all these were looted. The youth managed to recover some but still a lot of cows are said to have been taken by the attackers”, Magol said.
The legislator also confirmed the death of two people and the injury of another for the attack on attack Tonj East, supporting figures given by other area officials.
"Some were hospitalised with very great injuries, so I am afraid the figures might climb," he added.
The attackers reportedly went camp to-camp looking for cows and residents who were hiding, undeterred by the security forces. Those who were found were dragged outside, gathered together and slaughtered, witnesses told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
Colonel Philip Aguer, spokesperson for South Sudanese army confirmed the attack and said locations that prone to attacks are being reinforced and placed "under heightened security surveillance".